What an interesting 24 hours of racing we’ve had!
I’ve been multi-tasking trying to prep for Nome while crunching race numbers. After a great run into Eagle Island yesterday, Travis and his best friend Wade Marrs of Stump Jumpin Kennel traveled the remainder of the trail together into Kaltag. From the tracker, it looked like they alternated taking turns leading. This is advantageous as neither team tires out their lead dogs. Being a lead dog, especially in such tough trail conditions, is challenging.
Before leaving Eagle Island, Travis dropped Granger. Granger came up with a sore shoulder on the run into Ealge Island and with soft trail and several long runs ahead he didn’t want to have to carry her. This isn’t anything to be too concerned about as his team has lots of depth. I’m sure another dog will step up to the challenge!
The 122-mile stretch of trail from Grayling to Kaltag took Travis 20 hours and 42 minutes. Wade posted a slightly faster time — but both Travis and Wade continue to post faster times than the mushers in front of them. Currently, Travis is camped at mile 712 approximately 25 miles from Unalakleet. Ray, Pete, Richie, and Wade are all camped a few miles up ahead 0n the trail. I expect these teams will rest, 4-5 hours, and blow through Unalakleet.
Travis won’t rest long on the trail. He’ll rest approximately 1.5 to 2-hours tops before continuing to Unalakleet. Breaking up the 85 miles run like this, into a 60-mile run and a 25-mile run, will keep the dogs peppy and keep speed in the team for the push up the coast. He’ll play some leapfrog here, passing Wade, Ray, Pete, and Richie going into Unalakleet but they will pass him back shortly. Travis will have to stop in Unalakleet for a few hours whereas these teams will be able to blow through.
In Unalakleet, Travis will switch to a smaller, lighter sled which will hopefully help him gain some faster times. It will be interesting to see how things take shape from there. Travis will have sacrificed some time but will hopefully have gained some speed. With already faster run times and a little extra rest, he’s hoping he can push past some of the competitors for a better finishing placement: it’s a conservative movement that will allow him to hold his current position with a possibility of gaining.